African-American culture and the accomplishments of African-Americans have played a significant role in shaping the fabric of some quintessentially American ideals. Read on for a look at some of the pioneers who inspire us:
Dr. Charles Richard Drew
Ingenuity can save lives!
In the late 1930s, Drew invented a way to process and preserve blood plasma, allowing it to be stored and shipped for blood transfusions. Until then, blood was perishable and not fit for use after about a week.
Drew’s invention vastly improved the efficiency of blood banks across the world and has saved countless lives in the process.
Nicknamed “The Human Computer,” Katherine Johnson is one of the “Hidden Figures” behind manned spaceflight and the quest of putting a man on the moon.
She was so well-known for her accuracy that when NASA used electronic computers for the first time to calculate astronaut John Glenn’s orbit around the Earth, officials asked Johnson to verify the calculations.
Her pioneering work paved the way for women of color to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for generations to come.
James E. West
Can you hear us now? Thanks to James West, we bet you can.
In 1957, West went to work at Bell Labs. He and fellow scientist Gerhard M. Sessler developed an inexpensive, compact, and highly sensitive microphone, which they patented in 1962.
Today, 90% of microphones use their technology, including those in cell phones, laptops, baby monitors, and hearing aids.
Madam C.J. Walker
Truly embodying the American entrepreneurial spirit, Madam C.J. Walker saw a problem and came up with a way to solve it and in doing so became one of America’s first self-made female millionaires.
Walker experimented with homemade treatments and eventually created a formula that she called “Madame C.J. Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower“ to fight against hair loss. She then promoted her hair care tips and products across the country.
Using her knack for self-promotion, she made herself one of the most famous African Americans of her time.
We proudly salute these four pioneers and the accomplishments of all African Americans during Black History Month.